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Big Changes Coming To Larkspur's Yankee Pier

Chef August Schuchman is leaving the popular Magnolia Avenue restaurant to take over operations at San Francisco's Woodhouse Fish Company.

Look below for a special recipe from chef August Schuchman.

Chef August Schuchman's life is about to go through a major change … actually, several major changes, beginning next week.

Two years after he stepped into the kitchen at Yankee Pier on Magnolia Avenue, Schuchman is leaving Larkspur to take over operations at San Francisco's Woodhouse Fish Company, which restaurants on Market Street and Fillmore.

"It's an exciting opportunity. It's something that I've wanted to do, to manage two restaurants. I feel like it'll be good for my career and my resumé," Schuchman said. "It'll be different. I think I'll miss working hands on on the line, but I'll have a chance to learn more about the business side."

His last day at Yankee Pier will be Saturday. His replacement has not yet been announced.

"I love this restaurant. I feel like it's a reflection of me and the way I like to cook," Schuchman said.

Schuchman comes from an artistic family — his parents both played cello — and treats his cooking as artwork.

"I feel like they'e both expressions. It's all about expression. They're both very tangible to me. They're both very short-lived mediums. With music, it's vibrations and they resonate then they're gone. It's the same with cooking. They're both rewarding," said Schuchman, who plays the trumpet on occasion with the Mill Valley Philharmonic. "I get to express myself on each plate I make. I have that pride and the energy I put into it. You get out of it what you put into it. If you put a lot of love into what you're cooking, if you care, it's such a rewarding thing."

Marian and Burke Schuchman introduced August, the youngest of their three sons, to the kitchen at an early age. They taught him not only to cook traditional recipes including omelets and spaghetti sauce, but to create his own versions of the recipes.

"As a kid, my mom and dad would cook all sorts of cool food. My dad would come home with kimchee. They'd cook Chinese food or sometimes it would be Indian food, so I remember growing up with all these wonderful flavors," he recalled. "My mom would show me how to slice up mushrooms and garlic and everything and make it my own sauce and my dad would show me how to make omelets."

Schuchman says he strives to let the ingredients speak for themselves. He scours the local farmers markets for the best and freshest tomatoes, peppers and other produce.

"Sustainability is such a hot topic. … It's always something I've done to make sure I'm not using troll-caught fish from Fort Bragg because it's damaging the sea floor. There's bad ways people fish and there's good ways."

And the customers can tell the difference. Schuchman believes, "Having high-quality ingredients and everything being made from scratch is what makes the difference."

Schuchman's family moved to Marin just "days before I started fifth grad at Old Mill School in Mill Valley," he said. He grew up tasting all the fresh bounty from Bay Area farmers, ranchers and fishermen and learned to appreciate the food.

That served him well when he changed his dream of becoming a doctor and entered the California Culinary Academy. He landed his first job two months after graduating. Since then, he's worked at Nick's Cove in Marshall, the Water Bar in San Francisco and Sausalito's Cibo before arriving in Larkspur.

"I just love it here. This is so much my home. I've become an adult here. I definitely feel at home here," he said. "I've put down roots here."

Schuchman's not giving up his local roots however. He and girlfriend Laura Cole, who have settled together in Larkspur, are expecting their first child in January. She'll stay on as the general manager at Yankee Pier.

"Big changes are coming … Just trying to get everything settled before the kid comes and excited about the new job," he said.

August Schuchman's Yellow Tomato Gazpacho

1/2 pound Lemon Cucumber
2 1/2 pounds Yellow Tomatoes
1/2 pounds Yellow Bell Peppers
1/2 pounds Yellow Gypsy Peppers
1/4 large red onion
1 small bunch basil
1/2 cups olive oil
1/8 cup champagne vinegar
salt to taste
fresh ground salt pepper

Directions: Large dice al the ingredients and combine in a large container and set to marinate overnight. Blend, then garnish with crumbled ricotta salata, olive oil. Serve and enjoy.

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Laura Dudnick (Editor) September 12, 2012 at 06:02 PM
What a bummer for Yankee Pier! It's a very special restaurant... My family used to eat Thanksgiving dinner here every year and I've always loved the food!! Best of luck to the Chef with his next endeavor!
Tracy September 13, 2012 at 03:51 AM
Sorry to see Chef August leave; he will be surely missed.
Ian September 13, 2012 at 05:45 PM
Sounds like a tasty gazpacho recipe! Should have an interesting color to it.
GAFlynn September 13, 2012 at 11:22 PM
Oh dear, I was looking forward to a birthday dinner there in a few weeks. Best wishes to Chef, but as we don't have a big dining out budget, i may have to rethink the location--don't want to take a chance on something new.
Tracy September 14, 2012 at 06:02 AM
I wonder who will the next chef at Yankee Pier.
Brillat Savarin December 27, 2012 at 05:49 AM
Yankee Pier Larkspur has taken a nose-dive since Chef August's departure. We've been coming since the place opened and have seen its ups and downs, but this is definitely one if its worst times. Boxing Day, and everyone was gone by 8:30 -- and the staff looked gleeful, except for the veteran busboy who seemed to recognize failure. Fish tacos unrecognizable in taste and sight from Chef August's creation. House special Caesar salad overdressed, fish and chips ordinary and not as crunchy as in past. Many apologies overheard at neighboring tables, odd given the glaring lack of patrons. Even the standard coleslaw was an uncharacteristic and slightly unsettling pink color. Old? Red cabbage leaching color? Place to avoid for now...

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